Opinion Pieces

World Tuberculosis Day: The ancient disease that still takes 4,000 lives a day

First published on http://edition.cnn.com/


By Linda-Gail Bekker, IAS President-Elect

Each year, March 24 marks World Tuberculosis Day. One day in the year when the world's lens will focus on the fact that almost 4,000 people globally die every day as a result of this preventable, curable disease.

An ancient disease that has claimed many millions of lives, tuberculosis continues to wreak havoc on public health in many countries in this century.

Fast forward to recent decades and another pandemic has claimed more than 30 million, mostly young lives and today at least another 30 million people live with HIV -- an incurable, although treatable infection.

Inextricably linked by the interactions at the level of the host immune system, there are many similarities in these two epidemics. Both diseases are reliant on recognition of possible infection prior to the onset of symptoms, yet both are engulfed by crippling stigmatization undermining that self-identification, and both require long periods of adherent pill-taking to control or cure disease.

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